It's been a crazy couple of years for Justin Bieber. He's experienced the pitfalls of childhood fame, been arrested and roasted, and had his private parts make front page news. He's recently worked hard to redeem himself with the public with heartfelt social media messages, apologetic interviews, tearful performances, and charming, funny talk show appearances. He wants me to be on his side, and I want to be on his side, but there's something about him that just hasn't been sitting right.
While I've really enjoyed his recent songs and am in love with his new album, Purpose, it's almost like everything he does — the skateboarding, the shirtless selfies, the abandoning pet monkeys — has just really bugged me. A few months ago, while criticizing his obnoxious outfits, deer-in-headlights facial expression, barely there mustache, and questionably sincere apology tour, I finally realized why I had beef with Justin Bieber — because I've dated him. And you have, too.
Maybe he was your first big crush or your high school sweetheart. Maybe he was the secret hookup you had in your 20s, the one who you wouldn't introduce to your friends because they'd just tell you he was a jerk (you already knew he was a jerk, but that's why you liked him so much). He might even be the guy you just broke up with, the one who won't commit, the one you're still waiting to say "sorry." Whoever he was, he let you down or led you on or broke your heart — and you kept going back because he was just so smooth and had the sweetest little smirk and he was really good in bed. You were blinded by his charm (and yes, also his abs), and it made you believe that you were OK with things that you really weren't. You actually didn't want to listen to him talk about kickflips throughout an entire meal, and you weren't actually all that cool with him taking his shirt off in public places for no reason.
You'd argue, break up, and say things you didn't mean (as well as a few things you did mean). After a few days or weeks, he'd ask for another chance, you'd take him back (you'd always take him back), and things would be great again — but eventually he'd slip back into his old ways. He'd text other girls or spend all night out with his idiot friends or pee in a bucket and blame it on Bill Clinton. You'd hate yourself for getting involved with someone so selfish and arrogant and with such a dumb haircut.
When Justin Bieber goes on TV and apologizes for being such a punk, I want to look into his sweet, dopey brown eyes and believe him, just like I wanted to believe my own sweet, dopey ex. When I read that he "will always love" Selena Gomez and has hope that they'll get back together, a tiny part of me thinks: Don't do it, Selena. Don't go back. You don't need him. It's a trap! I know how it feels to hear those words and to get those texts, and so do you — and while it may feel soft and safe in your heart, your head will remind you of time spent waiting for him to return your calls, nights of binge-drinking and assuring your friends that you're "so over it," and pillowcases stained with mascara from crying yourself to sleep (and having to admit that you're so not over it).
Don't get me wrong: I LOLed and "aww-ed" along with everyone else watching Justin's hilarious carpool karaoke with James Corden. I've been jamming to his new album and I'll probably go to one of his concerts, because I'm genuinely excited about his return to the industry. He's made a lot of d*ck moves over the past couple of years, but unlike my Bieber-esque former flame, he's taking responsibility and owning up to them.
We've all looked at celebrities and been reminded of someone from our past, and I'm willing to bet that Justin jogs a few not-so-good memories for many women. Now that I know exactly who I'm dealing with, I'm slowly starting to let him back into my life. I can prepare myself for a possible letdown, whether he lands in jail, gets caught using racial slurs on camera, or just keeps wearing more ridiculously oversize outfits. I still want Selena to steer clear, though.